Zion National Park.. Amazing Zion!

After seeing Zion for the first time, I think “it” should be called “the Grand Canyon.”  Much more spectacular than the real Grand Canyon, and that’s pretty spectacular.    Zion was utterly the most beautiful place I have ever seen. (so far)

We started out early (for us) so we might find a parking spot near the visitor center.   Glad we did,  as we got one of the last spots!   Otherwise you need to take a shuttle bus from a town just west of the park, and dogs aren’t allowed on that, which is basically a show stopper for us.   The only trail in Zion that allows dogs is the Pa’rus trail which is paved and meanders along the Virgin River for 1.7 miles, so our pups’ little legs received a 3.4 mile workout.  It’s mostly flat but it was warm and there wasn’t much shade.   But the views were out of this world.  This is a place to come and hike around a few days!

The drive into the park from the east side and down to the visitor center is awe inspiring.   The views from the roadway are incredible,  truly breathtaking…  And there is a mile-long tunnel carved out of a mountain that is 11′ tall on the sides and 13′ in the middle.   I was very happy to NOT be driving the motor home this day as it’s over 12’7″ tall.   They allow you to drive them thru, but you have to pay $15 for the privilege as they stop traffic from coming the other way so you can gingerly drive down the middle of the tunnel.   My antennas stick up about a foot higher than everything else, probably 14′ off the ground, and would have been making a godawful racket if we went thru there.   That tunnel was very long and had turns in it.  Adding to its uniqueness was it was completely dark in there.   Prior to you going thru it, a ranger slows you and checks to make sure you aren’t wearing sunglasses.   There are a few small portals to the outside that give you a short but sweet view of the canyon below as you pass by.   A lot of very large motor homes and buses went by as we were waiting in line to go back thru that tunnel when we were leaving.

 

Traveling from the Canyon to Kanab

We got on the road around 9 am on Thursday heading for Kanab UT.  Driving back eastward on I-40 toward Flagstaff on a gloriously blue sky morning.   As the exit for highway 89 north toward Page approached, I noticed some dark clouds off in the distance.   In a little while we could see rain squalls under those clouds not far north of us and it appeared we were heading right at them.  And of course, we were.  It was a real gully washer as they say in the desert.   It was really great at washing all the smashed bugs off that large windshield.   That heavy rain only lasted about 5 or so miles, then it cleared right up and it was a beautiful and sunny day again.

Route 89 is an incredibly scenic road all  the way from Flagstaff to Kanab.   I had planned to stop for fuel at Mile Marker 498 (the only way to locate the Sinclair station)  Since we are pulling a different car, I had no idea what type of mileage we might get, and I didn’t want to run it all the way down by waiting till Kanab.   I pull into the station.   It has a 15′ clearance so we are all good.  There are 3 pump islands and at the last second I notice diesel is only on the first island.  I stop quickly and get out, only to find I am a foot too far for the hose to reach.   Backing up with a 4-wheel-down towed car (aka a  “toad”) you cannot back up.  I did back up for the foot I needed, and afterward had to go back and straighten out the steering wheels to put them straight again.  The gas pumps were the slowest I have ever experienced.  Even the dollar amount crawled.  When you have 100 gallons to put in, it really makes a difference!

There is a short stretch of “wonderment” a few miles before you get to Page Az where you go up into a tight mountain pass.   The road is carved out of the brightest reds, pinks and white rocks I have ever seen.  Unfortunately we didn’t know it was coming up or we would have been ready with the camera, all we could get was one final cut prior to reaching the summit and its all one color and Kathy’s iPhone camera didn’t do that photo justice.  (there was no where to pull over,  it was a very narrow passage with a sheer drop on one side and towering walls on the other.

Just prior to that spectacular section of road, we saw a McDonald’s sign saying RV parking.   Well,  Kathy decided we were stopping at a McDonald’s.. why, because they have RV parking.   Nuff Said.   Turns out the RV parking was one way in and out and not enough room for our size rig to get out.    I had to disconnect the toad, do a K turn, and then Kathy had to drive it till we found a wide spot in the road, which turned out to be our next stop.

My favorite part was going right past Lake Powell’s Glen Canyon dam and stopping by the visitor center… err, at least the parking lot for RV’s..   As soon as I fired the parking brake, it started to rain again, so I snapped a few pics and quickly reattached the car and got back inside to head for Kanab.

 

 

 

 

The road from Page to Kanab is more great scenery.

We arrived in Kanab late afternoon and found our campground.   It’s right smack in the middle of downtown, a very small downtown.  Two traffic lights was all I could see.    It looked nice, but there were a line of rental class C motor homes all the way out into the street.  I proceeded to follow them in and to my surprise right out the other side.   Turns out they didn’t have reservations and the place was full.    So I go back in,  this time noticing the office and checked in.   The owner told me those folks thought they had reservations for that night, but they were actually for the next night.

Turns out the owner of the campground is an IT nerd who had just installed Gigabit fiber and brand new Ubiquity meshed AC Picostations.   Man, is it blazingly fast, and he is very proud of that system.     Most of the parks we have visited have very poor WiFi.  Some places it didn’t work at all.

So this place let me download all my recorded shows from the home SageTV server in a few hours.   It was truly amazing after all the other experiences.

Long day of driving, glad to get settled in here.  Beautiful view of the red hills of Kanab!

Wandering around the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

We drove the car up to the visitor center and walked out to Mather Point,   What a view,  Every time I visit it’s like the first time.  It’s just that spectacular!

Had to take the obligatory pictures (like hundreds of others)   We got there before 11, but there were already a lot of people there, and after a bit of gawking we hiked toward Yavapai point and looked back.  It seemed a few tour buses must have just arrived and let off a large group of people!  After that it was our mission to get as far away from them as possible.   Walking  around the rim, there were beautiful views as far as you could see, different around every bend.   We even found a tiny place where you could see the Colorado River at the bottom and it looked so small.

Everyone wanted to pet the pups.   They were on their best behavior as they again were allowed on the trails on the south rim.   They were little troopers!  There were very few other dogs on the trails.

Kathy had checked and there was zero chance of rain, but maybe a mile or so down the trail it started to rain big drops.   We just paused under some trees and when it slowed down, we moved on down the trail.  After Yavapai there were very few people too.    Then I heard it,  thunder, and I realized pausing under trees was no longer a good idea.   It actually got down to 60, and being wet we headed away from the trail to the village looking for patio covers and lunch.   We  bought sandwiches at a deli and munched them outside under the covered roof.

Since we were cold and wet now,  (no rain gear due to zero chance of rain, ) I headed over to the bus stop to hitch a ride back to the car.  Pups are not allowed on the buses and it was raining a lot harder now.    I got even more wet getting out to the north forty where the car was parked and drove back and picked up my passengers.

(We had water for us and the dogs,  proper shoes to walk, but with sunny blue skies, didn’t bring our rain jackets, and our snacks were in the car.  Gloria has warned us about being prepared for anything, but who can carry it all?  I only had a visor and was wishing I had my hat when those big drops started!)

Kathy was aghast that after Baxter did his business on the trail and I was holding it in the poop bag, I then  decided to tie the duty bag to his harness.   (It was much too embarrassing to have that hanging off him.   Much better that I carry it.  🙂

 

We made it back safe and sound, but boy were we all tired!!!

Heading out of the heat and up to Williams AZ our base camp for the Grand Canyon

We took to the highway around 9am to beat the heat in Camp Verde.  It was supposed to be a really warm one there today.     It was a short trip up I-17 and over on I-40 to Williams,  just about an hour.   It was the low 70’s when we arrived.   Our campsite is at 6942 feet above sea level.   The highest summit on this leg was 7144 feet.   Lots of slow trucks along the way.   Williams was on the original route 66 and I-40 bypassed it about 2 or 3 miles north of downtown.   Lots of bars and gas stations, and believe it or not, there was a Safeway.    But only one barber shop and it was closed till June 1, the day we head for Kanab UT.

We are staying in a KOA,  lots of pine trees for shade,  pretty much all gravel driveways and campsites.   The most astonishing thing to me is they truck in all their water.  There is no well and they are outside of the city.    I found that out as i was checking in and there was a large round PSI gauge behind the counter.   When asked she told me about trucking in the water.  That must be expensive.   It seems like everyone out here trucks in their water.   We have this gorgeous view of the freeway out our front window if you have checked out the camera link.   But this place is really nice looking.   If only we were in the site reversed.

Looking for Montezuma Well.

An old work buddy suggested we go find the Well.  We did,  it was pretty amazing.  A deep spring in the middle of nowhere that has thousands of gallons of fresh water coming in every day.   And there were some rock dwellings along the cliff face.

Driving up to Sedona.

The day after visiting Montezuma, Jerome and Tuzigoot we ventured out to Sedona.   I just love all the red mountains. (like everyone else)   It was a 17 or so mile easy drive to the town.  I am amazed how many roundabouts they have now.  We went thru 25 if we went thru 1.    I was shocked how many stores had been built since ’89 but i guess that is progress of sorts.

We parked around the old part of town just prior to heading out of town on the northern end and started looking for a breakfast joint.   Prior to finding breakfast we were found by what I will call a “Sedona hawker”   It seems that one out of every four storefronts are in business to resell tickets for the four things that tourists must want to do.  The pink jeep tour,  the Trolley,  the Train or the Helicopter ride.   I kid you not,  there were so many of those shops I wondered how anyone could pay the rent.   This guy was pretty smooth,  and almost sucked me in.  Talking about a new camping spot right in town that he can get us.   What he failed to mention was it was a timeshare place we would have to endure the few hours of high pressure sales.   We said we would stop by again on the way back to give him time to get us an RV Site.   Luckliy I looked the place up while at breakfast/lunch and found out I wouldn’t ever want to stay there, let alone sit thru the sales presentation.

Afterward we wandered thru many trinket shops and art studios but it all looked somewhat tourists chic…

After a non existent breakfast at a Panera Bread clone business that stopped serving breakfast at 10:30..  Ala McDonald’s…  we wandered back to the car on the other side of the street to miss that smooth hawker…

I have to say that the views from town of the red mountains were incredible.   Once we got back to the car and headed toward the Red Rock Loop road out west of downtown.    Just a gorgeous road that was supposed to go down to a large pool on Oak Creek and small water falls.  The gal at the ranger booth told us that this time of year it’s pretty dry,  but once the monsoons start,  next month that would be an awesome place to be.

On the way out of Sedona we went looking for the chapel.   Once we found it we were in awe of the surroundings.   You must park at the bottom and walk up to the chapel and it’s worth the hike.   Incredible views from all sides.  There is even a gift shop underneath the chapel,  just take the inside stairs down one flight.

A drive up the mountain to Jerome Az

I had been to Jerome back in ’89 on a motorcycle trip with my Cuz and another friend.   I really liked it and knew I would be back to spend more time there.   It took a while but we made it.   It was a beautiful sunny and fairly cool day, mid 70’s with a slight breeze.   As we traversed the three levels of the town we started thinking about getting breakfast.   Since we had the pups we needed to find a place with a patio.      We found two of them,  one was closed and the other was a hole in the wall,   Downstairs off one of the streets that intersected two of the levels.   Our little patio was not much more than four feet wide.

The pups were a big hit in this town, everyone wanted to pet them.

A visit to Montezuma Castle.

This was an impressive site.   I’ve always wanted to see some of the cliff dwellings.   They are more impressive in person than in the pics.   We got there early as the day was supposed to be hot.   To our amazement our pups were allowed to hike the trails with us.   Everywhere else we’ve been excluded dogs from the trails.

The pups received their Bark Ranger Credentials. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Yuma to Camp Verde

Thankfully we were able to get out of Yuma before it got up to 100,  guess it was about 9:30 am as we trekked over to the CAT scales to get the coach weighed prior to hitting the freeway.   We were under the limits, a hair over 6 tons on the front axle and just a bit less than the 10 tons the rear axles are rated for.    

The TOAD weighed in at 3900 lbs,  probably 500 lbs more than the Jeep.

We jumped on I-8 east toward Gila Bend, then up to I-10 and over to I- 17,  it was a fairly uneventful trip all the way to  the Distant Drum RV resort on the outskirts of Camp Verde.

What we did figure out is we need to map out where we can stop half way to our destinations.   I have found a pretty good resource listing most rest stops since getting to Camp Verde.

RVParky is my new favorite tool!  http://www.rvparky.com/